Who can reconcile the contradictions of today’s Royal Ballet? At the end of last week, in a bill of six ballets by the founding choreographer Frederick Ashton (1904-88), the most conservative of mid-20th century theater masters, the dancers looked unaffected, fulfilled and marvelously contemporary. Yet in a program of George Balanchine’s “Apollo” and world premieres by Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon, the two finest choreographers working internationally in ballet today, everybody applied lots of exaggerated facial expressions, as if nobody trusted the movement to speak for itself.
Q&A with Kevin O'Hare.
Q. How would you describe your leadership?
A. There’s a saying: Look at the past, but don’t stare at it. We have a history now, and a lot of this history was quite amazing. You’ve got to acknowledge that, but you can’t hang on to that. You’ve got to move forward. Yes, we want wonderful dancers, and we have great stars, but it’s about the performance of the company. If you have two people dancing brilliantly in the middle and then nobody else is doing anything around the sides, I don’t think it works.